Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Expectant parents know that it’ll be harder to get a good night’s sleep after their little one arrives. But who could have guessed that catching enough ZZZs during pregnancy could be so difficult?
Actually, you may sleep more than usual during the first trimester of your pregnancy. It’s normal to feel tired as your body works to protect and nurture the developing baby. The placenta (the organ that nourishes the fetus until birth) is just forming, your body is making more blood, and your heart is pumping faster.
It’s usually later in pregnancy that most women have trouble getting enough deep, uninterrupted sleep.
The first and most pressing reason behind sleep problems during pregnancy is the increasing size of the fetus, which can make it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. If you’ve always been a back or stomach sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side (as doctors recommend). Also, shifting around in bed becomes more difficult as the pregnancy progresses and you get bigger.
Other common physical symptoms may interfere with sleep as well:
Your sleep problems might have other causes as well. Many pregnant women report that their dreams become more vivid than usual, and some even have nightmares.
Stress can interfere with sleep, too. Maybe you’re worried about your baby’s health, anxious about your abilities as a parent, or feeling nervous about the delivery itself. All of these feelings are normal, but they might keep you (and your partner) up at night.
Early in your pregnancy, try to get into the habit of sleeping on your side. Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses. It also makes your heart’s job easier because it keeps the baby’s weight from applying pressure to the large vein (called the inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs.
Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side. Because your liver is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off that large organ. Sleeping on the left side also improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.
But don’t drive yourself crazy worrying that you might roll over onto your back during the night. Shifting positions is a natural part of sleeping that you can’t control. Most likely, during the third trimester of your pregnancy, your body won’t shift into the back-sleeping position anyway because it will be too uncomfortable.
If you do shift onto your back, the discomfort will probably wake you up. Talk to your doctor, who may suggest that you use a pillow to keep yourself propped up on one side.
Try experimenting with pillows to discover a comfortable sleeping position. Some women find that it helps to place a pillow under their abdomen or between their legs. Also, using a bunched-up pillow or rolled-up blanket at the small of your back may help to relieve some pressure. In fact, you’ll see many “pregnancy pillows” on the market. If you’re thinking about buying one, talk with your doctor first about which might work for you.
Although they might seem appealing when you’re feeling desperate to get some ZZZs, remember that over-the-counter sleep aids, including herbal remedies, are not recommended for pregnant women.
Instead, these tips may safely improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep:
Of course, there are bound to be times when you just can’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, worrying that you’re not asleep, and counting the hours until your alarm clock will go off, get up and do something: read a book, listen to music, watch TV, catch up on letters or email, or pursue some other activity you enjoy. Eventually, you’ll probably feel tired enough to get back to sleep.
And if possible, take short naps (30 to 60 minutes) during the day to make up for lost sleep. It won’t be long before your baby will be setting the sleep rules in your house, so you might as well get used to sleeping in spurts!
Advice and information for expectant and new parents.
Are you expecting more than one baby? Find out how to take care of yourself and prepare for your multiple birth experience.
Most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancies. But during that time, you’ll need to make a few changes to your normal exercise routine.
Our week-by-week illustrated pregnancy calendar is a detailed guide to all the changes taking place in your baby – and in you!
Here are 10 common surprises that can come with pregnancy.
If you’re a first-time parent, put your fears aside and get the basics in this guide about burping, bathing, bonding, and other baby-care concerns.
During your pregnancy, you’ll probably get advice from everyone. But staying healthy depends on you – read about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.